Cast all your anxieties [cares, concerns, worries] on God because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Kelly Willard’s Example
Recently I used the verse above to encourage someone and remembered a praise song based upon it. The “Cares Chorus” was written by Kelly Willard in 1979 it and goes like this: “I cast all my cares upon you. I lay all of my burdens down at your feet. And anytime that I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon you.” It’s a simple, but wonderful song, pointing us back to God.
Since Kelly Willard wrote that song, she experienced many disappointments. The Lord doesn’t guarantee to make this present life fun, easy, or comfortable. Most of you know that too well. After the year 2000, Kelly devoted lots of time and energy to caring for her mother, who suffered with Alzheimer’s, and Kelly says that 2004 was the worst year of her life. Both of her parents died, her 30 year marriage ended, and her 18-year-old daughter, struggling with severe depression, committed suicide.
Yet, by God’s grace, Kelly asserts, “Even with all I’ve been through, nothing changed my relationship with the Lord or His call on my life from youth. If anything, I’ve gained wisdom through things I suffered, even from my mistakes, and I am more dependent on Jesus than ever. I give thanks for God’s faithfulness to us and His unwavering commitment to conform us into Christ’s likeness. I plan to keep on telling of Jesus’ goodness to me until the very end.” I admire Kelly’s faith and trust in Jesus and I want to hang on to the Lord like she does.
Cling to Christ
Scripture says that believers cling to Jesus only because His right hand upholds us.1 But how did Kelly Willard do her part, enduring and persevering in following the Lord? Her “Cares Chorus” was based on 1 Peter 5:7 and coupled with verse 8, Christ teaches us how to handle hard things, especially when we don’t understand God’s mysterious providence. Jesus sends Peter to write: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”
What to Do? Why? How?
In the verses above, Christ tells us: 1. What to do: Humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. 2. Why: All-powerful Jesus will lift up His believers eventually. 3. How: Throwing all our anxiety on the Mighty Savior who cares for us. Let’s look at each of these phrases:
1. What to do. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”2 The Son of God hates pride and arrogance, so humble dependence on God is a hallmark of Christ’s true disciples. We are to yield ourselves into God’s hands, trusting Him to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.3 That’s the way to the truly carefree life, resting in our Heavenly Father’s concern for us.
2. Why. In Peter’s day, Christians were passing through fires of affliction because of their allegiance to Christ. So Peter reminds them and us to keep on relying on our Sovereign Lord to work it all for good, to sustain us, and to exalt us in due time. Paul reminds us, “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”4 The Risen Jesus raises us up all during this life and finally and perfectly when He returns for us.
3. How. Peter reminds us to pray in troubled times, something we often forget in painful circumstances. Writer Andree Seu Peterson was a young widow with four children who realized, “Thinking a lot is not the same as praying a lot.”5 Negative over-thinking and rumination is toxic. It leaves us feeling overwhelmed, pessimistic, and powerless. Peter’s language of casting all our anxieties, cares, concerns, and worries reminds us of a football quarterback who quickly throws the ball to a receiver without hesitation. Quarterbacks need to do that, because hanging on to the football too long gets them tackled. When David Carr played for the Houston Texans in 2002, he became the most sacked quarterback in a single NFL season, being sacked 76 times.6
Here’s a lesson. If we hold on to our burdens, concerns, disappointments, unmet expectations, and fears for long, we are in danger. We need to prayerfully throw our worries onto our Mighty Risen Savior, so that we don’t get sacked by Satan. Peter warns: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”7 King David, often attacked by demonic and human enemies, passed his worries on to his Savior:
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Morning by morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.8
Bringing Everything to God in Prayer
We are foolish and proud if we hold on to our troubles instead of passing them into Jesus’ mighty hands. We are not competent to handle life on our own; we need God’s help. Christ doesn’t need information from us in prayer, but He wants us to admit our helplessness and honor Him by asking for help. The Lord is moved to answer when we won’t take no for an answer. In Luke 18, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow to show us that we should always pray and never give up.
Christians can use Kelly Willard’s “Cares Chorus” as a prayer, naming our specific anxieties and problems and repeatedly bringing them to Christ until He answers. Joseph Scriven’s great hymn says something similar:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, stated, “The best help in all situations is to pray; that is true genius, then one never goes wrong.”
Prayer: Lord, your Scriptures are clear; help us put them into practice. Help us to take a lowly place, our proper place before you, our Kingly Father. Help us to trust that you will lift us up in your perfect way and timing. Until you rescue us, help us to keep on passing our anxieties, cares, concerns, and worries on to you, remembering that you love us and sent your Son to save us. Since you gave us Jesus, you surely will, along with Christ, graciously give us all that we need.9 Hear us and help us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Notes (various translations used): 1 Psalm 63:8. 2 Matt 5:3-5. 3 Psalm 23:3. 4 Rom 8:17. 5 Andree’s Aphorisms, WORLD Magazine, November 19, 2005. 6 I got the football illustration and other ideas from Jack Wisdom at a meeting of The Gathering of Men, Houston, TX (Roger Wernette, Executive Director). 7 1 Peter 5:8. 8 Psalm 5:1-3. 9 Rom 8:32.